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FDA approves third COVID-19 shot

Once again, Virginia residents will need to roll up their sleeves to prepare for the COVID-19 vaccine booster shot.

On Friday, Sept. 24, the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control (CDC) approved the Pfizer-BioNTech booster vaccine.

“Virginia welcomes the decision from the CDC to support booster shots for certain people who previously received the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine,” Dr. Danny Avula, M.D., MPH, Virginia’s state vaccination coordinator, said. “The Virginia Department of Health (VDH) has been working with its vaccination partners — pharmacies, health care providers, hospitals and other institutions — to prepare for this rollout, and we are confident that we will have enough supply and that access will be widely available.”

The CDC recommends that people with moderately or severely compromised immune systems receive an additional dose of the COVID-19 vaccine (Moderna or Pfizer) after the initial two doses.

“As soon as Moderna booster shots become available, I will be one of the first in line,” Allyn Adell Humphreys, a Lunenburg resident, said.

Currently, only people who have already been fully immunized with Pfizer-BioNTech’s two-dose COVID vaccine are eligible for a booster shot.

The FDA has not released booster shots for those vaccinated with Moderna or Johnson & Johnson.

“I never got the first one and never will,” Lunenburg resident Shawn Cothran said.

For Trudy Corning Bishop, she does plan to get the booster shot.

Studies show that after getting vaccinated against COVID-19, protection against the virus may decrease over time, and the vaccine may be less able to protect against the Delta variant. Although COVID-19 vaccination for adults aged 65 years and older remains effective in preventing severe disease, recent CDC data suggest vaccination is less effective at preventing infection or milder illness with symptoms.

According to the CDC, emerging evidence also shows that among health care and other frontline workers, vaccine effectiveness against COVID-19 infections is decreasing over time.

As of Monday, Sept. 27, only specific populations initially vaccinated with the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine are eligible for the booster shot.

According to the CDC, the following groups are eligible and should consider getting the boost shot.

People aged 65 and older and adults 50–64 years with underlying medical conditions should get a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. The risk of severe illness from COVID-19 increases with age and can also increase for adults of any age with underlying medical conditions.

Residents aged 18 years and older of longterm care settings should get a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Because residents in longterm care settings live closely together in group settings and are often older adults with underlying medical conditions, they are at increased risk of infection and severe illness from COVID-19.

People aged 18–49 years with underlying medical conditions may get a booster shot of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on its benefits and risks. Adults aged 18–49 years who have underlying medical conditions are at increased risk for severe illness from COVID-19.

People aged 18–64 years at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of occupational or institutional setting may get a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine based on their benefits and risks. Theses include: first responders (health care workers, firefighters, police, congregate care staff), education staff (teachers, support staff, day care workers), food and agriculture workers, manufacturing workers, corrections workers, U.S. Postal Service workers, public transit workers and grocery store workers.